When you pick out a meal and a wine that work in harmony, the resulting dining experience can be something far more special than trying to enjoy your food without an alcoholic drink. Red wines are generally more challenging to match to foods, and the versatility of each vintage is narrow. A red that goes divinely with lamb, for instance, might turn into nothing special if you try it with braised steak. When you're in a situation where you know your food is going to be hot and spicy - e.g., when you're anticipating a hot Indian curry dish - spicy red wines are often the way to go. These wines can stand up to heavily-spiced entrees and complement them wonderfully instead of clashing with them.
Why Spicy Food Is A Special Challenge
Picking out the perfect wine becomes rather difficult when your food is very spicy and you decide to go with red wine rather than white. Picking a red does free you from the risk of ending up with over-sweet wine, but it introduces a lot of new considerations. You don't want to end up with a tipple that overpowers the food or one that ends up tasting bitter. Well-prepared hot dishes like curries often present multiple flavours, making your wine choice even more difficult. Every town probably has one of these new multi cuisine takeaways. The one that holds true to my heart is back in my university town and is one of the best places to eat in Loughborough if your on a budget or if you would rather spend that budget on a better wine selectionâ¦ its not called Paradise Takeaway for nothing ! haha !
No Time For Fine Dining But Fancy A Tasty Takeaway Now
Don't give up hope when you survey the field of wines available to you for pairing with spicy foods. With a little practice and insight, you'll find it's not that hard to pick out a great bottle that will turn your takeaway dinner into something truly special. I myself realized just how rewarding a good pairing can be recently when I matched up an order-in Indian dinner with a crisp red Zinfandel.
General Red Wine Guidance
As noted above, the last thing you want to do is to overpower the delicate, spicy flavours of your favourite Indian cuisine. This means eschewing red wines with a high alcohol content as well as those that are oak barrel aged. These characteristics are by no means negatives in themselves, but when combined with a spicy dish, they're a recipe for a poor wine pairing.
Your ideal red wine is going to one that is aromatic and rather fruity. An off-dry red is often great at creating a lively interplay with spicy curries. Because crispness and lightness are your priorities in pairing for spicy food, you're going to end up exploring some wines that are a bit outside the mainstream for reds.
Great Red Wine Choices
If you know enough about wine to have followed along with the general advice presented above, you may already be well on your way to picking out a great red for a spicy meal. If you'd like to work from a more specific selection, give the following varieties a try.
Beaujolais is a very fruity red that frequently works wonders with spicy dishes. Merlots and Zinfandels are also quite workable, especially when compared to heavier reds like Cabernets Sauvignon. If you're planning on a meal that is both spicy and smoky, try matching your food with a middling Malbec for a complex and flavorful pairing.
Other reds with a fruity character and a light (not tannin-heavy) flavour include Vouvray, Viognier, and Albarino. Just remember that variety alone is no guarantee of perfection; inspect the individual bottles you're choosing and stick with lower alcohol levels and flavour profiles that lean towards the fruity side.
With these basic principles, starting suggestions, and a bit of trial and error, you'll be well on your way to picking out great red wines for a spicy Indian curry.